When You Fall
This writing thing is not precisely scary. I mean, you’re never going to break a leg. Or two. Or freeze working out in the snow, because you are just too tired to walk back home.
And yet… and yet sometimes you fall and you can’t get up.Because what you’re doing is sort of labor: you’re birthing something new that didn’t exist before. And if you don’t see any results (I understand in indie production is more closely tied to rewards. But I need to get myself up off the floor to go indie) year after year, at points you fall. You’re on your face, crawling along, unable to function.
You might have trouble starting things, you might have trouble finishing things. You might avoid your desk like the plague. You might find yourself obsessively cleaning, taking an interest in gardening.
It’s always bad when things get so difficult that your creative needs try to find other outlets. You might find yourself overwhelmed with an urge to sew or do fabric sculpture. In a very very bad year, I took art classes. Obsessively.
So what gets you through?
I don’t know. I know the ropes that worked in the past. Some of them are inoperative now.
But some of the things that worked for me in the past might work for you now.
1- You need money.
Yes, I know, it’ not a great incentive. Rather, let me put it this way: it sucks as an incentive longterm. But if we hadn’t desperately needed money to pay a double mortgage (we’d moved) I’d have quit in 2003. Some days I wanted to do anything but write. But I needed money. So I wrote, as long as the projects came in. (This arguably works best with trad, because you know how much you’re going to get paid and — roughly — when.)
2- You’ve got friends.
It’s as good a time as any to thank Kate Paulk and Amanda Green who, through at least a year 2010) kept me writing by literally reading every half dozen pages I wrote and cheering me on.
It can’t have been easy, but it helped.
3- You just make yourself do it
This works great until you realize you’re really not doing anything, because you’re avoiding writing and you won’t let yourself do anything till you write.
4- You go away and re-set your mind.
Hotels work for me. It’s a combination of not being able to do anything else, and being in a strange environment with no distractions: no cats, no friends, preferably no internet.
The question is not if you will fall. You will fall. Either through lack of success, through too much success (some people become scared they can’t do it again.) Either through tiredness, or illness, or whatever, there will come a day you’d rather do anything else than write.
The question is this: when you die — will you be all right with all the unwritten books?
If you’re facing death and know the stories, the ideas that were never written will die with you, will they haunt you?
Because if you’re not all right with it, then surely you’ll have to pick yourself back up.
Anyway you can.